July 29, 2019 / 2:46 PM / 3 months ago

Ivory Coast rains to boost cocoa main crop - farmers

ABIDJAN, July 29 (Reuters) - Above-average rainfall last week in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa growing regions will boost the October-to-March main crop, but more sun is still needed, farmers said on Monday.

The mid-crop, which lasts from April to September in the world’s top cocoa producer, is coming to an end as few beans were leaving farms and producers focus on the main crop.

Farmers said they were happy with the rains, which would bring many pods to be harvested from mid-September to November.

But more sun would be needed over the coming weeks to avoid diseases in plantations and help pods grow bigger, they said.

In the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast’s cocoa, growers said they were confident the start of the upcoming main crop harvest would be abundant and of good quality.

“Everything is going well on the cocoa trees. A lot of pods have grown well and within a month and a half we will start harvesting,” said Marcel Kamenan, who farms near Daloa.

“We still need good rains and sunshine next month,” Kamenan added.

Data showed rainfall in Daloa, including the region of Bouafle, was 58.2 millimetres last week, 35.3 mm above average.

In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said they were expecting as healthy a crop as last season’s if the weather remained adequate next month.

“We have a lot of big pods on trees, and flowers and cherelles are still proliferating. It’s a good sign,” said Kouassi Kouame, who farms near Soubre.

“Sunshine is average,” however, he said.

Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Soubre, which includes the regions of Sassandra and San Pedro, was 33 mm last week, 14.5 mm above the five-year average.

Farmers were optimistic about the main crop in the southern region of Divo, where data showed rainfall of 43 mm last week, 28.6 mm above average.

In the central region of Bongouanou, rains were at 28.7 mm, 13.2 mm above average and the central region of Yamoussoukro saw 38.6 mm of rain, 22.7 mm above average.

In the western region of Man, farmers were concerned heavy rains would bring diseases, after rainfall reached 75.9 mm last week, 45.8 mm above the five-year average.

“If it keeps raining like this over the coming weeks, we fear insects and diseases will spread on the plantations,” said Moussa Kone, who farms near Man.

Rains were below average in the southern region of Agboville and in the eastern region of Abengourou but farmers there reported no damage.

Average temperatures ranged between 23.9 and 26.2 degrees Celsius. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Anna Pujol-Mazzini and Dale Hudson)

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